Mississippians reflect on memories of the Queen and what it’s like to be in the UK amid the mourning period

Published: Sep. 19, 2022 at 9:05 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - As many Mississippians view Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral through a distant lens, others have unique connections they shared with us.

Watching the pomp and circumstance surrounding Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral brings back a 2001 memory for Visit Mississippi director Craig Ray. He served as Special Assistant to the President and Deputy Director of Advance and Special Projects at the time.

“They were in control of the lunch and all the protocol afterward, but this is what the world got to see,” described Ray as he referenced a photo from July 19, 2001.

Ray and his team had visited the palace in the weeks prior to prepare and plan for the visit, but as he described, nothing quite prepares you to see the Queen.

“It was just a magical moment. For that moment when she arrives, and she makes her way into the room and this royal, special moment. It was moving. I mean, I’m getting chills talking about it now. Just meeting, not for us specifically meeting, but you know, being 15 to 20 feet away from her as she arrives in the room with her husband, the Prince that meets with our Prince, our President, and First Lady. So, it was a really special time.”

To view Craig Ray’s full interview, watch below.

Craig Ray was serving as Special Assistant to the President and Deputy Director of Advance and Special Projects in 2001 when the President and Queen met.

More than 20 years later, a Mississippi family is experiencing their own unique vantage point of history.

“The historical magnitude of it all really set in today, experiencing in real-time, and in the country and only 100 miles, a little over 100 miles away,” described Jonathan Crabtree.

The Crabtrees moved from Mississippi to the UK a year ago for Jonathan to research a Ph.D. in historical theology through the University of Aberdeen of Scotland. He’s on-site at Trinity College, Bristol, which he describes as a theological institution, mostly training Vickers and ordinands for the Church of England. Both he and his wife Kristina are ordained in the United Methodist Church and Mississippi Annual Conference and are on family leave for Jonathan to research the Ph.D.

Monday, they viewed the funeral coverage from the local pub where much of their village was gathering to watch.

“There was like a solid minute of silence and, and you could just feel like the respect and the love just like zooming out of people just like watching and the different panoramas around the country,” said Kristina Crabtree. “And even from where we were sitting in the pub, like, the church bells were not even ringing. There were no cars moving. Like nobody was speaking. It was like a legit one minute of silence. It was just, yeah, it was just surreal to be able to be a part of that.”

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